Texas county uses key control solution in its detention center

Morse Watchmans systems strengthen procedural accountability at Lubbock County Detention Center


Oxford, CT (May 23, 2012) – While keys and correctional facilities go hand in hand, the new Lubbock County Detention Center relies on key control and management systems from Morse Watchmans to ensure that administration and management of the facility’s keys does not get out of hand.

The Lubbock County Detention Center (LCDC) is one of the largest direct supervision county detention facilities in Texas with a current capacity of 1500 beds. Since its opening in 2010, the facility has utilized the Morse Watchmans key control system, along with other state of the art electronic security and access control systems, to increase the safety and security of both inmates and staff.

“Tracking keys from one shift to another is an essential procedure for maintaining a secure environment and the Morse Watchmans system provides that capability for us in an automated, easy to use way,” said Captain Malcolm Chambliss, Day Shift Captain and Detention Response Team Commander with the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office. “The biggest change from the way we did things at the old Detention Center is in accountability. The KeyWatcher system automatically lets us know if any keys are not accounted for at shift change or if they were returned by another user. It allows us to take immediate remedial action.”

The KeyWatcher system enables the sought after accountability through its innovative engineering. The system works by securing each individual key to a Smart Key locking mechanism with built-in memory chip. This unique feature ensures that each time a key is taken from or returned to the Morse Watchmans key cabinet, the activity is recorded. Users have access to keys only as approved by the system administrator.

In order for a LCDC guard or other authorized user to access a key, they simply enter their pre-programmed PIN code on the cabinet’s built-in keypad. If the criteria entered matches the information stored in the system data base, the key cabinet will unlock and the approved key can be removed or returned.

Captain Chambliss notes that this design feature adds another layer of security to key control. “Not everyone needs to have access to keys for the pharmacy and the KeyWatcher lets us electronically restrict access as well as monitor key usage,” he said.

The LCDC has a total of four KeyWatcher cabinets, each of which is network connected to allow online monitoring, updating and reporting. At any time, Captain Chambliss can view who currently has which keys out and when they are scheduled to be returned; or who has had keys out, for what areas and when. When keys are not returned as scheduled, e-mail alerts are sent to supervisors to allow quicker action. Activity reports for each key in the system can also be generated, or recorded information can be rolled into standardized databases and spreadsheets for further analysis.

“The system is extremely secure, easy to use and administer,” adds Captain Chambliss. “We don’t have problems with unauthorized access or missing keys and the paperwork takes care of itself. In fact, with less effort we have more usable information.”

Captain Chambliss has served in the Detention Division of the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office for more than seven years and served as a member of the transition team for five years in planning for the new LCDC. He says, “The Morse Watchmans key control system was introduced to us by the architect and was in accordance with our intentions to incorporate high end security technology into the facility. It was a good decision and has proven to be a valuable technology solution.”